FIX THE MIRRORS by Ethan Swan
130mm x 195mm, 228pp, perfect bound, hand stamped cover, oversize A6 risograph printed tip-in flyer, open edition.
‘Dude, you wrote an essay!’ he told me, ‘how do you expect us to sell it in one sentence if you can’t even describe it in one page?’ I was horrified, embarrassed, immediately offered to write a new one and send it. ‘No,’ he explained, ‘you’re being taught a lesson. Do better with the next release.’ I was too surprised to be angry. I also didn’t learn my lesson, and they didn’t carry the next record we put out either. The lesson I did learn, maybe not for a long time, is that I only really care about the records that take pages to describe.
The Grass is Green in the Fields for You is overjoyed to present a project which has been in the making—and mind—for some time: Fix The Mirrors by Ethan Swan. This collection, which starts itself in the year of 2000, collects writings on music and DIY activity from Swan’s back-catalogue. Musically it is broad, we begin with Meltdown moving to Shudder To Think; singular considerations on tracks by Tracey Thorn, Unrest and Jane’s Addiction. Further focuses on Saturday Looks Good to Me, Roy Harper, Panax, Slick Rick. There are documentary works and interviews covering Felix Kubin, The Homosexuals, Graham Lambkin & Spencer C. Yeah, Cass McCombs, and Bridget Cross. An expansive amount of ground is covered in this single collection, and this isn't the start of the wealth Swan has created. The writing is immediate, thoughtful, touching and honest—just like Ethan. Meticulously crafted, the painstaking layout is accompanied by photographs by Lisa Anne Auerbach documenting 1980’s Chicago punk shows—it seemed perfectly fitting to include them. It would not be an exaggeration to state that The Grass is Green in the Fields for You was born out of a love for projects like this and this publication is our proudest moment yet.
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“I think the article about 222 Bowery, or the Morrissey zine, or even my parts in Silk Flowers songs are really just a way of sharing things that I feel happy to have learned.”
— from a gmail ‘interview’ July 2010
Ethan Swan is, to paraphrase from his own introduction to this book, a person that would take pages to describe and while this is no way an attempt to do so I wanted to present a snapshot of some of our experiences with him.
The first time we met Ethan Swan was in November 2009, when his band Silk Flowers came to play in Manchester. The show almost didn’t happen; we were tired of setting up shows, kind of jaded and stressed out in general and thinking about doing something different with our spare time /energy/ money. It’s not hyperbole to say that the fact we’re still doing the same things now (ten years later and the case against withstanding) is in no small part due to that night and that meeting.
Ethan had asked us to arrange a birthday cake for Peter (Schuette, Silk Flowers)’s birthday and ended the evening meticulously washing dishes which apparently his technique had been refined while ‘ageing’ some china for a Nikhil Chopra show at the New Museum.
Enthusiasm is contagious, true community emboldens its members, music heals, someone believing in or understanding what you do validates your attempts. These are just a few of the thoughts from that meeting and they are sustenance. We loved their music and were inspired by meeting them.
His ideas are presented with generosity and almost complete absence of ego (to the extent that his most-recent project, a series of oral histories and collected ephemera on Black Dice, Brontez Purnell and David Wojnarowicz and Ben Neill’s ITSOFOMO, does away with the authorial voice altogether) and it is a pleasure to spend time with them.
Ethan’s belief in (and commitment to) people and his generosity in sharing information (which is STILL wielded as capital, as power even in radical or DIY communities) is remarkable and impressive and if this book presents a notion of the ‘fan’ it reveals its author to be a fan of people and their potential in a deep and true way. — RL Perry